At it’s core, We Are Your Friends takes a look at millennials going through what millennials go through: exploring who they’re really meant to be, while navigating life’s speed bumps along the way.The road this film takes you on to get to that message, is probably a more fun ride than you were expecting.
The movie itself follows a group of friends, Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie(Shiloh Fernandez), Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), and Cole (Zac Efron), the DJ and star of the group, as they flounder through life trying to find where they belong. The quartet makes their living promoting (and Cole DJ’ing) at night clubs, until one night an conversation that Cole has with seasoned DJ James (Wes Bentley) sets forth a chain of events that soon change everything.
Here’s a brief description, per Warner Bros.:
“We Are Your Friends” is about what it takes to find your voice. Set in the world of electronic music and Hollywood nightlife, an aspiring 23-year-old DJ named Cole (Efron) spends his days scheming with his childhood friends and his nights working on the one track that will set the world on fire. All of this changes when he meets a charismatic but damaged older DJ named James (Bentley), who takes him under his wing. Things get complicated, however, when Cole starts falling for James’ much younger girlfriend, Sophie (Ratajkowski). With Cole’s forbidden relationship intensifying and his friendships unraveling, he must choose between love, loyalty, and the future he is destined for.
The movie is most definitely a drama, although certain plot points audiences will be able to see coming from a mile away. Without spoiling too much, the introduction of Sophie and Cole, while they’re watching her boyfriend James DJ (unbeknownst to Cole at the time) makes it crystal clear to see where things will go with that trio during the film. Also, some of the boys’ partying ways leads them to a tragedy that was also fairly simple to call. Regardless, the film was filled with unexppected moments as well, thanks to Joseph’s directing style, which I’ll get to in a second.
Zac Efron was likable as the level-headed Cole. His passion for DJing drove him in a way that I think will speak to a lot of millenials trying to reach their dreams that many would deem impossible or improbable. Wes Bentley, who is quickly becoming one of my faves, was equal parts funny and sad as the older DJ who seemed to be looking for his hit song at the bottom of a bottle of vodka. Emily Ratajkowski was fine as Sophie, the typical pretty girl with the guy who didn’t treat her right, but nothing about the character itself stood out. The core quartet looked like they really had fun making the movie. Their chemistry was on point and didn’t seem forced, giving audiences a look into how bohemian bros (bro-hemians?) get by on a day-to-day basis.
One of the things I was most excited to see was Max Joseph’s directing style in action. No shame here, I’m a huge Catfish fan (Side Note: Keep an eye out for a quick cameo from Max’s Catfish co-host Nev Schulman during the movie), and as other fans of the show know, he was absent for a good part of the most recent season because he was directing this very movie. Well I may as well go on and say it…it was definitely worth the absences. Joseph’s direction made the audience feel how the character’s felt, whether it was animation creeping up during a PCP trip or the camera whirling quickly as Cole and Sophie went on a whirlwind adventure. Without his fun sense of how he wanted the core group’s stories portrayed, I could honestly have seen the film ending up pretty boring. Joseph is definitely on my list of directors-to-watch now.
The only criticism is that there were a few scenes that seemed random and others that ran a little too long. When a scene is included, it usually serves some sort of purpose in the overall movie, be it at that moment or later on, but by the end of We Are Your Friends, there were a few scenes that made me wonder “Why?”.
We Are Your Friends is a solid, albeit slightly predictable, drama that explores the troubles facing the generation that many would prefer to write off as spoiled and lazy. The story isn’t anything new, but the perspective is interesting enough to keep audiences entertained. Also, there are a considerable amount of Zac Efron-shirtless shots, which never hurts. The movie is now playing, so go check it out.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.